Members' Research Service By / October 6, 2022

Sustainable carbon cycles: Promoting removal, storage and recycling [Policy Podcast]

The EU has set itself, with the adoption of the EU Climate Law, the legal obligation to deliver a climate-neutral economy by 2050 and deliver negative emissions thereafter.

© European Union 2022, EPRS

Written by Liselotte Jensen.

The European Union (EU) is legally bound by the Climate Law to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and deliver negative emissions from that year on. To do so, carbon emissions must be significantly reduced and any remaining greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions balanced, and subsequently exceeded, by sequestration or removals, to limit and ultimately reverse the warming of our planet.

In its December 2021 communication on sustainable carbon cycles, the Commission outlined various approaches to capture and store or sequester carbon dioxide emissions, or capture already released carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere to reduce the concentration and thereby its warming effect. Various solutions, both technology- and nature-based, are being brought forward to this end. A key challenge will be to ensure permanence of carbon dioxide removals, whether in underground geological storage or through actively managed natural processes, such as carbon farming and management practices in the land use, land-use change and forestry sectors.

Many products today, such as plastics and chemicals, are produced using virgin fossil-based carbon resources. The Commission therefore also aims to push for product and process innovation to substitute current fossil-based feedstock with sustainably sourced bio-based materials, or through the circular economy, to ensure that carbon integrated in products is recycled and remains stored. More CO2 transport infrastructure is essential to increase the reuse of captured carbon.

At the end of 2022, the Commission plans to put forward a legislative proposal on a European framework for the certification of carbon removals, which could lead to a market for carbon removals, further incentivising measures to increase carbon sequestration and storage. Ensuring high environmental integrity and adequate monitoring and reporting frameworks is crucial, while also taking into account potential trade-offs or co-benefits of potential solutions.

Read this briefing on ‘Sustainable carbon cycles: Promoting removal, storage and recycling‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Sustainable carbon cycles: Promoting removal, storage and recycling’ on YouTube.

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Carbon flows EU-27 (2018)

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